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Omaha chosen for women's world volleyball tourney

AP - Sports

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Omaha has been chosen to host the final round of the 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix, the first major international volleyball event outside of the Olympics to be held in the United States.

The June 2015 event at the CenturyLink Center will serve as a tuneup for the FIVB Women's World Cup, which is the first qualification event for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The U.S. women's team, currently ranked No. 2 in the world behind Brazil, has won the World Grand Prix five times. Brazil won the 2013 tournament.

The event recently expanded the field to include 28 countries in the preliminary round.

''Playing on our home soil will be so important for this tournament as it will serve as our last preparation before stepping on to the actual road to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games,'' U.S. coach Karch Kiraly said. ''At the same time, the fans will be treated to watching all the best teams in the world competing at their best with the Rio Olympics only a year away.''

The state of Nebraska has traditionally shown strong support for volleyball. In addition to an NCAA women's tournament regional in Lincoln this past season, the Ralston Arena hosted the 2013 NORCECA Women's Continental Championship.

John Cook, head women's volleyball coach at Nebraska, will serve as honorary chair for the 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix final event.

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